'Heaven gained another angel': Former Georgia tennis star Lilly Kimbell, 31, dies of a heart attack
CLAYTON, GEORGIA: Lilly Kimbell, a 31-year-old former college tennis player tragically died after she had a massive heart attack that cut off oxygen to her brain for an extended period of time, on Saturday, February 4. Her family members and her loved ones are devastated by the untimely death of the 2014 graduate of the University of Georgia.
According to Clayton News Daily, Kimbell’s family was forced to take the difficult decision to take her off life support. Her family members, friends and former coaches offered their prayers and condolences after they heard the unfortunate news.
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Kimbell’s sister Samantha Gillas paid tribute to her, explaining what she meant to her in a heartfelt Facebook post. “Yesterday heaven gained another angel,” Gillas began. “I really don’t know what to say. I am lost for words and in complete shock, but at the same time I have so much I could say. It all seems so surreal and I’m just waiting to wake up from this bad dream and I’ll see you coming downstairs. Besides what you did on the court I looked up to you as a person. You had this ability to make everyone smile. Whenever we walked into the room you would be surrounded by people laughing and smiling. Everyone seemed to gravitate towards you,” Gillas's post read.
“I’m still trying to process why God had this happen to you at 31 years old. I shouldn’t had to say goodbye to my sister at 22 years old. I love you so much Lilly. I know you’re looking down at us watching over. You were so talented and loved by so many," Gillas concluded.
Former Georgia Bulldogs Tennis Player, Lilly Kimbell, Dies at 31, Sudden Cardiac Arrest 💔 pic.twitter.com/joReiziKsg— TexasLindsay™ (@TexasLindsay_) February 8, 2023
What did the Georgia State head coach say?
"We were stunned and heartbroken to learn of Lilly passing away," Georgia women’s tennis coach Jeff Wallace said, according to WestJournal, adding, "I will always remember how she helped create a culture of excellence with her attitude and work ethic. Lilly was a fantastic teammate and was always smiling and laughing during practice and matches.”
“She ranks as one of the most successful doubles players in Georgia tennis history. During the spring of her sophomore year, she went undefeated in doubles with Maho (Kowase), and their 22-match winning streak is still a school record. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family,” Wallace continued.
Who was Lilly Kimbell?
Kimbell cemented her legacy as one of the greatest athletes in the history of the program during her time at the university. She recorded 197 wins, 109 doubles and 88 singles in four years with the Bulldogs. During her tenure she advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals four times and was part of the 2014 team that claimed the SEC championship.
Kimbell won the 2011 ITA Southeast Regional Doubles Championship with Chelsey Gullickson in her first collegiate season. In her second season, she set the record for most consecutive doubles wins in a season. Kimbell registered 22 wins in a row with Maho Kowase in 2012. In 2014, she graduated with a degree in human development and family science, and in 2016, she earned a master’s degree in sport management.
She remained associated with the sport following her career with Georgia and served as an assistant coach at Eastern Illinois and then later St Mary’s.